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How to Influence Other Leaders

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

“If your emotional abilities are not in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” -Daniel Goleman

If you have ever thought, “Why on earth did I react that way?!” this newsletter is for you. In the Modesta Mahiga 360 Leadership Podcast interview yesterday, we spoke about emotional intelligence as the greatest distinguishing factor of leadership effectiveness. This is because the higher up you go, the less weight technical acumen has on your leadership effectiveness, and the more center-stage emotional intelligence becomes to your leadership success. When surrounded by other equally qualified peers, with the power to advance their own agendas, it is emotional intelligence that determines whether you can successfully convene and collaborate conflicting interests towards meeting a common outcome. Try to flex knowledge, skills, and experience, and you isolate the parties at the table. Are you a leader that wants to become more effective at influencing peers? Practice emotional intelligence. These are the four emotional intelligence pillars you will need to be aware of and learn how to engage. These are Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Empathy, and Relationship Management. Let's look at each in turn:

1. Self Awareness Know yourself; what you are good at and what you are not; when you are at your best and when you are at your worst. Have a healthy self-assessment; be honest about your abilities and limits and create opportunities for others to come alongside you as your support system. This will help you choose to engage in ways that maximize your strengths and areas of confidence and minimize your weaknesses. The game changer is when you learn to understand others and how they are wired so that you can manage their strengths and weaknesses in your relationships and engagements.

2. Self-Control

If you’ve ever lost it, then found composure later, you were sabotaged by a trigger. A trigger is a hijacking fight or flee reaction you have when you feel a situation in the present is threatening, whether based on a past traumatic experience, or a fear that arises in the moment.

Self-Awareness will help you know your triggers. A plan of self-control will ensure that you can short-circuit the trigger so that it does not run its full cycle.

Anticipating people, places, sights, sounds, smells, words, and circumstances as triggers helps you plan whether or not and to what extent you will engage in a trigger zone.

Techniques to diffuse triggers include, reframing your thoughts and interpretations that lead to negative outcomes. You know what pushes your buttons, backtrack, draw a line, and make a plan (with accountability) not to cross it.

Pausing between thinking and speaking and between thinking and acting gives you room to review circumstances and choose an appropriate response. Coupled with deep breathing exercises that flood oxygen to your “thinking” brain that had shut off when your fight or flee auto response was activated, you can now think clearer, and remember what is the goal and what is at stake in your engagement with peers.

3. Empathy

As leaders, we often think people come to us to fix situations, so we are always ready with an answer. As peer leaders our egos also come to play so we flex to show off who knows best or whose story is worst.

When others’ emotions are high, or low for that matter, trying to fix their problems is often not what they need. It is certainly not what they want because it disempowers them and can make some feel weak compared to you, oh-all-knowing-one. Instead, emotional intelligence asks us to embrace diversity. This means listening to and allowing ourselves to see things from others’ perspectives and acknowledging their perception as their reality.

Emotional intelligence says, I hear you, that must hurt/feel frustrating/ be difficult. Then, pausing and holding space to allow the other person to convey their sentiments without judgment or suggestions.

4. Relationship Management

How well you manage your relationships with others and between others will either build or tear down team, organizational efforts, or industry performance and results.

Leaders that effectively manage relationships understand that their role is to inspire and facilitate adaptation and collaboration where people are equipped and empowered to own and drive change that continuously delivers results.

This necessitates individual and team development, building coalitions, and managing conflict.


As you reflect on how to strengthen your emotional intelligence among peers,

  1. Review the four emotional intelligence pillars and give yourself a Low, Medium, or High rating on how well you think you are currently doing on each. Then,

  2. Strategize how to improve the areas you scored Low or Medium to strengthen your emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness among peers.

“Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than I.Q. or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work...I.Q. is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn't make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.” -Warren G. Bennis.

For conversation on this and other critical leadership topics follow the Modesta Mahiga 360 Leadership Podcast on Apple, Google, and Spotify.

Make sure to turn on notifications to alert you when we release a new podcast every first and third Saturday of every month.

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